What Today’s Delta SkyMiles Announcements Mean For You

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Today Delta SkyMiles had several announcements that Delta travelers and those who earn Delta SkyMiles will want to read.  If you are coming from a perspective of having elite status with Delta, or otherwise have them as your primary program, you will want to really pay close attention to the announcements.

Delta SkyMiles Changes ComingHowever, for the rest of us who may just have the co-branded Amex or some miles in a Delta account, you only really need to focus in on a couple of the announcements.  If you fall into that category, this is the post for you (though I will at least briefly cover all the announcements).

Delta Award Prices to Become More Dynamic for Travel on or after June 1, 2016

Delta already has a pretty dynamic pricing system and no published award chart, so this is hardly a shocking or bold move, but they are outright announcing more dynamic pricing effective next summer.  Specifically, they have announced that the number of miles needed for an award will change based on destination, demand and other dynamics.  However, they also say that most award prices will remain unchanged.  This sounds exactly like the way that Southwest handled their move to more dynamic pricing earlier this year.  

They do specifically call out that the number of miles needed to upgrade under the Mileage Upgrade Award program will increase, and they will expand the eligible types of fares. You can learn more about Mileage Upgrade Award changes here: http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_…de-awards.html

I did some searches today for flights after June 1, 2016, and didn’t immediately find anything obvious that differentiates the pricing on those flights from flights before June 1st but that may change over time.

Emphasis on 7,500 Mile Award Flights:

Delta highlighted that they have some one-way awards available for just 7,500 miles through February 2016.  I have personally come across lots of 10,000 mile one-way awards, too, so the old standard of the 12,500 mile award really is somewhat gone, though not always in a bad way.  They do offer a reminder that to find the best availability and deals, search at least 21 days prior to departure and use the Award Calendar by selecting “flexible days” when searching for a flight. For more information visit: http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_…tml?icid=FS_US

Changes to Elite Upgrades and Medallion Qualifying Dollars:

Beginning July 21, 2015, Diamond and Platinum elite members will be able to use Regional Upgrade Certificates in addition to Global Upgrade Certificates for a Delta One™ seat on eligible transcontinental flights between New York – JFK and Los Angeles – LAX or San Francisco – SFO.  This is mostly an improvement for those elite travelers who want to be able to secure an upgrade on that route.  It is also similar to how United handles upgrade instruments on transcon routes.

Also beginning on July 21, 2015, you can earn MQDs (elite qualifying dollars) and miles when purchasing Preferred Seats, Delta Comfort+, and paid upgrades to the Premium cabin.  That’s a good change for those counting on those qualifying dollars to hit elite status.

Delta also reinforced that you can now book awards with 22 total partners on their website, and they are working to include more.

What Today’s Delta Announcements Mean For You

Since I am not a regular Delta traveler, my main takeaways from today’s announcements are two-fold.  First, they are basically giving a formal warning that dynamic pricing where an award costs whatever the heck they say it costs will become more prevalent for flights starting next summer.  I don’t like that sort of uncertainty when it comes to my miles, so if I were sitting on a big pile of Delta miles, I would not hesitate to spend a good chunk of them before then if the opportunity arises.  I’m sure they will still be useful after that time, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck with tons of miles that become potentially costlier to use.

Second, today’s announcements probably just start the clock for when United will basically say the exact same things.  So, don’t think that all of this is irrelevant to you just because Delta may not be your primary program.

What are your main takeaways from today’s Delta SkyMiles announcements?

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  1. The more I fly Delta (I am a hub hostage), the more I try to understand the love and hate relationship I have with them. On one side they are destroying their loyalty program by charging whatever they feel like for award trips. Nobody trust them and they could not care less since they have a CEO that brags they are the best. On the other side, as a business traveller I have to agree that Delta usually treats me very well. They run by far the best operation among all US airlines, don’t lie to customers by saying they offer international first class like AA and United do and they are pretty generous on the amount of miles you get if you pay big dollars for your ticket. So far this year I got over 60,000 miles for a business class round trip MSP-AMS and several 10,000 plus miles for very short haul flights they charge over $1,000 for it. I just got 9,000 miles for a 500 mile distance flight which is not that bad in my opinion. Thus, if your company pays for your ticket Delta is the best US airline you can get.

  2. You can be pretty sure its going to be more difficult for the average American to get any real value out of your Delta miles. Those who redeem for awards outside of where the masses go may still have some room to extract value, but for the average American looking to use miles to get to Europe or Hawaii… yeah good luck with that.

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